Les Arcs is one of the best ski resorts for beginners in Europe. There are around 50 chairlifts that have a blue run meaning the choice of terrain is enormous. This wide variety of terrain and huge choice of slopes gives an excellent smooth learning progression. This smooth progression promotes an excellent learning environment under the expert care of your AIM Snowsports instructor.
Les Arcs has invested heavily in creating dedicated beginner areas such as Mille 8 (pronounced Meel weet in French) in Arc 1800. This gives the perfect environment for a beginner skier to start learning the skills necessary for enjoyable skiing in a safe and comfortable environment without other skiers to distract them.
Teaching beginner skiers and beginner snowboarders is our privilege at AIM Snowsports. We understand how daunting learning to ski can seem to some but skiing is accessible to everyone. We believe that skiing is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life and everyone should be given the best learning opportunity.
Ski lessons for beginners
As a progressive thinking ski school, AIM Snowsports instructors takes a holistic approach in our teaching methods. Everyone we teach is treated as an individual and their specific requirements including their physical and psychological needs are taken into account. Our AIM Snowsports instructor team love to introduce both children and adults to the joys of skiing.
Slope safety is something that our AIM Snowsports instructor team care passionately about and they promote a fun and safe environment where we can all learn and ski. It is vital that beginner skiers learn how to ski safely and how to navigate the slopes safely also.
Let us share our enthusiasm and passion for skiing.
How to learn to ski and snowboard
Skiing is an immensely complex series of movements, done in a very unique environment. Our clients often liken it to their experience of learning to drive but standards of driving do not vary quite so much! Take away the lane markings and speed limits and driving would be much more varied!
The art of learning to steer and control the throttle, whilst changing gear and checking your mirrors is difficult to begin with but after plenty of practise becomes an autonomous act.
Learning is a very individual skill and the ability to learn and the rate of progression can vary immensely due to the many variables involved in skiing well. In order to make the learning journey the most individual and enjoyable experience, AIM Snowsports have chosen to focus on private lessons only. This means the learning is completely designed around the individual needs of the learner.
The best way to learn to ski, or snowboard, is having a dedicated and experienced instructor. One to one lessons are the quickest way to learn to ski confidently.
Skiing tips from Aim Snowsports
Lean forward –
Granted, this is easier said than done. The posture and balance over the skis is the most critical element in successful and confident skiing. Without the correct posture and balance, every other movement needed to turn the skis effectively becomes incredibly difficult, leading to lack of confidence, fear, apprehension and frustration amongst many other things which are all negative. This negative spiral goes around, leading to further leaning back and compounding the issues.
Just try doing any movements dynamically whilst leaning backwards and it is simply not effective. Overcoming the psychological and physical blockages to allow correct balance and posture are the first thing a good instructor will tackle. Clue: it takes more than just saying “Lean forward”to achieve but it is often the biggest improvement skiers feel.
Lack of movement is another barrier to successful and enjoyable skiing. This can often be a result of poor posture and balance, so this must be prioritised accordingly. Sometimes skiers are shocked how much movement is possible whilst sliding on skis and just need to acquire the confidence to be able to do so. Making efficient and functional movements allows the skiers to remain in balance and control through the curved path of the skis as their body also flows down the hill.
Skilful skidding is the key to being able to descend any piste effectively. Many skiers think that skidding is a negative thing, as many skiers have heard the term ‘carving’ and assumed this to be the goal on every slope. Skidding is actually present in the majority of turns but it is the skill of being able to control the skidding effectively that is the difference. Simply sliding the skis sideways down the piste is not the same thing, although this may appear to work adequately on certain gradients. Turning and tilting the skis using effective and fluid rotational and lateral movements of the lower body will produce a performance which gives a very different sensation of grip and control of direction in all conditions.
Ski vs snowboard
We are often asked, “which is the easier to learn, skiing or snowboarding?”
The standard reply is that skiing is easier to learn but harder to master. From observation, it is very clear that people often show a strong preference for either skiing or snowboarding after having tried both. There are also some people that enjoy both equally.
Difference in teaching progression
The teaching progression within skiing is quite linear to begin with, and hence quite satisfying for the learner. Within the first lesson in skiing, the pupil will be sliding downhill, it is one of the first things they must learn to do. The initial learning progression in a ski lesson is comparatively quite rapid and commonly, people can be making their first turns shortly after learning to slide. The snowplough, although much maligned, is a fantastic teaching tool and if used correctly, will lead to parallel turns (actual skiing) quite quickly. Unfortunately bad instruction or a lack of instruction can sometimes lead skiers to becoming stuck in a snowplough, (career snowploughers).
The teaching progression in Snowboarding is not quite so linear. They must first learn the basics of controlling the board. In the British and Irish teaching methodologies this is normally done by breaking down the individual skills required to make a turn before putting them all back together. This can involve a great deal of repetition which can become quite tiring physically. Whilst a good instructor will make the progression as smooth as possible, there is the inevitability of needing the board to turn into and slide down the fall line which is often a big psychological problem.
The smooth progression of a ski lesson will often prevent skiers from falling over, and therefore, a fear of falling (the unknown) can develop. Often skiers, (normally female) have a fear that they will not be able to get themselves up again due to the physical strength required. This can be overcome by practise and using the correct strategies to remove and put the skis back on. Whilst skiing is a physical activity and a sport, it can be learnt with a minimum of physical effort using good balance and technique. Simply standing on the skis correctly (balancing effectively) means small amounts of muscular effort are required so change direction.
Snowboarding has a certain inevitability of falling. A good instructor will take great measures to reduce the risks involved by choosing suitable terrain, practising falls as required and explaining how to fall as safely as possible. The learner is likely to fall however and even without injury, this can become very tiring in standing up on the board each time. Simply strapping the boots to the board after each run on a beginner slopes can become tiring after 20 runs! For overweight people, strapping the board up can be difficult and even more difficult to lift yourself from the snow.
Once skiers and snowboarders are of a similar level and able to link turns on a blue slope then the physical requirements are not very different.
The terrain required for learning the basics of board control is generally steeper than that required for learning to ski. Whilst this helps the learner in some technical respects, it also challenges them psychologically. Using the toe edge to side slip down a beginner slope involves the learner travelling backwards which can be a psychological challenge. Conversely, using the heel edge and side slipping forwards down the hill can be a psychological challenge as well, particularly those who have not skied before either. Further in the learning progression, the snowboarder must learn to point the board downhill which involves the sensation of acceleration and another mental challenge.
Skiers begin by sliding downhill which is a big psychological barrier for some and so terrain choice is very important to make the progression gradual. The next step is speed control and the snowplough is a huge psychological handbrake for some learners. This is not always a good thing and the use of the snowplough needs to be controlled to prevent it becoming a blockage to progression at a later date. Psychological challenges present themselves in dealing with steeper terrain when skiing as the movements required to deal with the terrain and remain in balance during the turn are more counter-intuitive than whilst snowboarding. The margin for error in this area is smaller within skiing and the ability to turn the skis quickly more difficult. This is where the statement, “harder to master” becomes true.
Ski vs snowboard for beginners. Which one and why??
Skiing or snowboarding is normally a personal preference and can be influenced by things like having done a lot of another sport, e.g.Mountain biking, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading skating, surfing, horse riding etc. The patterns of movements within the body can be similar and feel more comfortable as well as a preference for travelling facing forwards or facing sideways. For people with a higher risk of injury, lower fitness or younger or older age, skiing is normally an easier introduction to snowsports and always allows for the skills learnt in skiing to be transferred to snowboarding also. The fastest snowboard learners are normally those that have skied before due to their familiarity with their environment.